See the Tunisian Election Live Results Table for regularly updated district-level results.
There are still many districts not reported, and some missing data in those districts that are reported. However, the pattern is clear. Out of a total of 217 seats, 145 have been allocated as of my check. The Ennahda has 60 of these, which is 41%. The next largest parties, Congress for the Republic (CPR) and Aridha Chaabia (Popular Petition) have 21 and 20, respectively. Then Ettakatol with 13 and PDP with 6. No other party currently has more than 4. Thirteen parties are currently on one seat apiece.
The picture is thus one of a single dominant, but likely not majority, party, and a fragmented rest of the field.
At the district level, the expected pattern for the simple (Hare) quota and largest remainders (SQLR) system can be observed. This system is well known among electoral-systems specialists for its tendency to benefit small parties. Seats are much “cheaper” in terms of votes required to win, via remainders than via quotas.
The way SQLR works is that a quota is defined as 1/M of the votes, where M is the magnitude of the district (the number of seats available). In the first state of seat allocation, a party wins seats according to how many of these full quotas it has. Whatever number of seats are not yet allocated after seats by quota are determined are then allocated via largest remainders. In this stage of allocation, the parties’ remainders are ordered from largest to smallest, and a seat–at most one per party–is assigned to each in descending order until all are filled.1
A party’s seats in each district are thus the sum of its quotas earned, plus a remainder seat, if any. Under SQLR a large party will use up most of its votes on quotas, and then be eligible for at most one remainder seat. Smaller parties, on the other hand, often will have their full vote totals in the district as their remainder, and hence the last seats allocated in a district often require a much smaller number of votes to win than did the first (quota) seats that were assigned.
The process, and its impact on the cost of a seat, can be demonstrated by reference to a couple of the declared district results.
In the district of Gabes, M=7, Ennahda won 4 seats, and three other parties have one each. All three seats allocated to parties other than Ennahda were remainder seats. Total votes were 138,375. Ennahda had 73,416, or 53.5%. So it is only slightly over-represented, with 57.5% of the district’s seats. Its cost per seat is 18,354 (73,416/4). Each of the three other parties that won a seat has fewer votes than this, and the smallest of them paid only 7,351 votes (5.3% of the total) for its one seat, or 40% of what Ennahda paid for each of its four seats, three of which it won via quotas, and one by remainder.
A second, very striking, case shows how SQLR can sometimes under-represent the largest party. In Jendouba, M=8, Ennahda won 2 seats, and six other parties won a single seat apiece. Ennahda’s votes were 33,136 out of 118,376, or 28%. Yet it won only 25% of the district’s seats. The quota is 118.376/8=14,797. Thus both of Ennahda’s seats were won via quota, and it paid 16,568 votes for each of these. The other parties that won a seat each had vote totals ranging from 12,433 to 3,599. So the smallest party won a seat at a cost that was a mere 21.7% of Ennahda’s per-seat cost. Ennahda missed winning a third seat by 57 votes, as its remainder was 33,136-(2*14,797)=3,542. One party winning a seat on 3% of the votes cast, while another wins 2 seats on 28% is an odd result, but one that is inherent to the formula used, SQLR.
Tunisia Live does not seem to have a running total of national-level votes, so it not possible to tell the vote percentage upon which the preliminary 41% of seats for Ennahda is based. As the two district results discussed here show, SQLR can either over-represent or under-represent the largest party, depending on whether the precise vote totals allow the largest party to win one of the remainder seats or not, and of course on the district magnitude.
It is possible that Ennahda has won a bit more than 41% of the votes. It is also possible that it has less than 40%. Even the latter would imply a lesser degree of over-representation than most “proportional representation” systems would provide the largest party.
With one party so dominating the rest of the field, and smaller parties earning seats much more cheaply than the dominant party, we might anticipate that SQLR will not be the electoral system that this Constituent Assembly adopts for the next election.
- It is this incorrect to call systems like this a “largest remainder” system, as is often said, because that term describes only the stage of allocation that takes place after quota seats are assigned. There are several different quotas (for instance, 1/(M+1) instead of 1/M), and the definition of quota that is used will have a significant effect on the remainders that parties have left over once quotas are assigned. [↩]